This Slow Cooker Sweet and Spicy Chicken is the perfect at-home Asian dish with tender chicken thighs cooked in a slightly sweet, spicy sauce made with soy, garlic, ginger, and Asian chili paste.
Use this sweet and spicy chicken recipe for your weekly meal prep or as the main course for dinner! It is incredibly versatile and healthy. There are so many ways to enjoy it, and it's so tasty that you'll probably come with some new ones.
This is a seriously delicious chicken recipe. It's has a touch of sweetness from the brown sugar and a little salty from the soy sauce, with just enough heat from the Asian chili garlic paste. Serve it with some sesame sugar snap peas and steamed rice and you have a dinner everyone will go crazy for.
In fact, if you were in my kitchen last night, you would have witnessed us messily eating it out right out of the slow cooker while we waited for the rice to finish up. It wasn't a pretty sight, but it was too good to wait!
The leftovers are also amazing so it's easy to get two meals out of this recipe. Today, you would have seen me stuffing it into lettuce wraps with some mandarin oranges, shredded cabbage, and chopped cashews. It seriously makes delicious lettuce wraps!
This slow cooker chicken recipe is super easy to make and is really popular with various foods and meals.
Key Ingredients and Easy Swaps
There are lots of ways that you can customize this recipe for a different twist on the flavor each time.
Here's what I used:
- Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs: I decided to use boneless and skinless chicken thighs because I wanted to make sure the chicken stayed nice and moist. Chicken breast would also work, as would pork tenderloin or a lean, trimmed pork shoulder.
- Soy Sauce: If you want to keep it gluten-free, you can use tamari or liquid aminos.
- Brown Sugar: I love how the brown sugar caramelizes in this sauce. You could also replace it with honey or agave syrup.
- Asian Garlic Chili Sauce: This adds some delightful heat to the dish! If you like things spicy, add a touch more.
- Garlic Cloves: Whenever you cook things on the stove, use fresh garlic cloves instead of garlic powder or garlic salt. It will produce the best aroma and flavor for the dish.
- Ginger: Just like with garlic, ginger has the most flavor when you mince fresh ginger root.
What To Serve With Sweet And Spicy Chicken
This is the best part about this recipe - you can serve it in so many ways!
It tastes fantastic on a bed of brown rice. You could also eat it on top of some cauliflower rice. It's also flavorful enough to eat on its own with some just steamed veggies or put it inside some lettuce wraps.
The options are pretty much endless!
This is the perfect slow cooker recipe to use for your meal prep the rest of the week. Just cook it, shred it, and then store it in your meal prep containers. It will stay fresh in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Recipe Tips And Ideas
Follow these tips to make sure that this chicken turns out juicy every single time!
- Reduce the cooking liquid. This creates a fantastic sauce/drizzle for the chicken, and it's worth the extra 15 minutes.
- Adjust the spices to your liking. If you taste it and want it spicier, add more chili sauce or a splash of hot sauce.
- You can use dried ginger instead of fresh, but the taste will be milder, so use more.
- This recipe also works great with lean pork, turkey breast, or chicken breast.
- If you want to make this a more complete meal, then add some green beans, sugar snap peas, or broccoli during the last 30 minutes of cooking. The veggies will cook right in the sauce. Then just grab a bag of frozen or pre-cooked rice and dinner is done.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some questions I frequently get asked about by some readers...
Yes, this tastes really delicious in the Instant Pot, too.
If you want to make it in a pressure cooker, I suggest adding 1/2 a cup of chicken broth to it first. Food in the Instant Pot needs liquid for it to work correctly. If you don't use enough liquid, it will cause the chicken to burn, and you might get a "BURN" warning on the Instant Pot.
Just add 1/2 a cup of chicken broth along with the rest of the ingredients to the Instant Pot and cook it on high pressure for 30 minutes and then do a quick release of the steam.
Then, it's ready to eat!
This sweet and spicy chicken recipe is the perfect make-ahead freezer meal.
Add all the ingredients (raw and uncooked) to a large freezer-safe resealable plastic bag. Then, lay the bag on a baking sheet and freeze it. When it is frozen solid, you can take out the baking sheet.
Doing this step basically prevents food from settling and freezing in strange or weird positions. When it freezes flat, you'll be able to store more bags on top of it.
Then, when you are ready to cook it, just let it thaw in the refrigerator the night before. Even if it is still slightly frozen the next day, you can dump all the ingredients in your slow cooker and let it cook.
If you want to use chicken breast, the instructions are the same. Nothing changes, and it will still be really juicy and fall apart.
The only thing I would change is that I'd keep an eye on the cooking time. Chicken breast (especially boneless and skinless) tends to cook a lot faster. If you don't like your chicken to be extra-soft, cook it for about 30 minutes less.
The only thing about this recipe that isn't keto-friendly is the sugar. So, I suggest using a brown sugar substitute like Swerve. Be sure to use a brown sugar sweetener so it will caramelize in the same way and have the same kind of texture.
Then, serve it on top of lettuce or some cauliflower rice. It's actually a really fantastic low-carb meal on its own!
Slow Cooker Sweet and Spicy Chicken
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- 2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken thighs
- 1/3 cup low sodium soy sauce (GF if needed)
- 1/4 cup brown sugar (or honey or agave)
- 1/4 cup Asian garlic chili paste
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tbsp. ginger, minced
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* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
The Nutritional Values provided are estimates only and may vary based on the preparation method.
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